… and why we never got the Equal Rights Amendment.
Donald Trump is a very good Republican candidate. In terms of both style and substance, Trump does a good job of representing that part of the Republican Party that has been in charge of that party for several years, the Tea Party. The Republican Party has built itself up to become, effectively, the majority party in the US by pandering to this part of the base, along with gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression. So, really, there is no reason that Republicans running for office around the country should be upset with the fact that Trump is the frontrunner in the nomination process. If they were smart, they would embrace Trump, run on his coat tails, and win.
But the candidates may be running away from Trump anyway. One possible explanation for this is perhaps found in contrasting the Bush Dynasty, which has been central to Republican politics, or played an important role, for decades. The Bushes are a different kind of Republican than Trump, and from the Tea Party. They are the connected establishment Republicans who manage that interface between big money, mainly energy money (including the Saudis and the Kochs and all of that) and the political process. Trump may be seen as a wrench to be thrown in that carefully engineered machine. Naturally, established Republicans would prefer someone like Jeb Bush to be the nominee, or really, anybody other than Trump, because they are all nicely tied in and the status quo of a majority party fully connected with energy money, buttressed by absurdly right wing social policy, can continue and strengthen.
Nice theory. But the background is distant and deep, and the evolution of Republican politics, the Bush Dynasty, social conservatism, and establishment GOP politics is a bit more complicated and interesting. For some of this background, I refer you to this interesting item by Rachel Maddow:
I’m going to add two things to this, which won’t make sense unless you watch the video. 1) A lot of young liberal progressives actually supported Goldwater in those days because a) he wasn’t part of the Democratic political machine (the Democrats were not so much about democracy in those days) and 2) not only did Nelson get divorced, but he was quietly understood by New Yorkers to be very much of a carouser, drug user, and general all around bad guy, despite his clean looks and well spoken manner. I don’t know how true that all was, but it certainly lubricated the transition from beloved centrist to moral reprobate in people’s minds.
(Also, the war, and the politicians positions on it, was important and complex in those days.)